Photo Provided

Manchester University’s Kevin Kling (back center) pictured with his children, Micah, Joseph and Winnie, in front of their under-construction Habitat For Humanity home.
Photo Provided Manchester University’s Kevin Kling (back center) pictured with his children, Micah, Joseph and Winnie, in front of their under-construction Habitat For Humanity home.
NORTH MANCHESTER – The motto “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” is a portrait of Kevin Kling’s life.
Among the early-morning custodial crew at Manchester University where his work deals with upkeep of the Physical Education and Recreation Center among other areas, he can be seen wandering through the dark hallways and along the sidewalks of campus diligently preparing the campus for a new day. While his job is usually done at 3 p.m., Kling’s daily duties don’t stop there.
The 2001 Indiana State University graduate is also progressing towards a teaching license at M.U. while being a single father. However, even with a rugged schedule that he frankly admits includes “plenty of caffeine and energy drinks”, he and his children have found not only a home but also a family within the Manchester University and North Manchester communities.
Their home situation is preparing for a boom just as has their family setting due to what Kling calls “a complete 360” over the last year. After living in a rental house and then with his parents for a time before landing at the Clear Creek Apartments, Kevin knew it was time to check out the Habitat for Humanity process.
“We’ve been (in the North Manchester area) for the past four years but haven’t ever really had a place to call home,” he said. “We were literally stacked on top of each other at Clear Creek … four of us in a two-bedroom apartment which included my oldest son, Micah, having to use a prosthetic right leg due to a birth defect.”
“(Habitat for Humanity) has been incredible. They met with us early on and could see the situation we were in, so we qualified for a new home. It’s been in the building process since September.”
A new residence at 516 W. 4th Street isn’t the only thing developing, either. An indelible friendship between Kevin, his family, and MU students, student-athletes and campus staff is included.
“Along with two student groups, we’ve had baseball, softball, wrestling, soccer, football and women’s basketball teams helping us out,” he said. “If it wasn’t for what they’ve done, we wouldn’t be near finished. They’ve been so integral in all areas.
“A lot of the big parts were done prior to what (the students) did,” he added. “However, soccer built framing and put up walls; women’s basketball did drywall and siding; football did heavier lifting and so forth; softball helped with roofing and siding. No matter who it’s been, all of them have had a hand in it. I’ve really enjoyed the relationship with the students and campus staff beyond that, too. We’ve had students stop over and check in on us, and, with my work on campus, I run into a lot of those same people and get a chance to talk them.”
Senior women’s basketball student-athlete Jenifer Lee, junior football student-athlete Jared Bourff and junior softball student-athlete Mallorie Jennings were three of the numerous individuals that have lent a hand to the process.
“It was great to see (Kevin’s face) through the process,” Lee said. “You could tell it meant so much that we were there. It was a lot of work, but it was great. Most colleges wouldn’t give you this chance unless it was in a major, but at Manchester University, you have these opportunities in extra-curricular activities.”
Jennings said “(The softball team) had been looking for chances to get involved with the community. Fortunately, some of the team members had seen posters around campus talking about this Habitat for Humanity project. We thought it’d be great to assist building a home (for an employee of the university). Overall, I thought it was exciting. It was a good experience for the team, as most of us had never done anything like this before.”
Bourff said. “it was a process but well worth it. Originally, we didn’t know the story behind the house we were working on, but getting to know (Kevin) and his family was the best part. He told us his story, and we understood how important (the project) was.
“This to me spoke to a personal level. I still talk to Kevin whenever I see him so it wasn’t just about the community service side but developing another friendship (on campus).”
With the campus community getting involved, the large process of building a home is nearly complete, according to Kling.
“We hope to begin signing the paperwork in the next week and then moving in around the second week (of February),” he said. “People don’t realize what the campus and university mean to me (in regards to what they’ve done for us). Megan, my boss, has worked my schedule around; getting to know the students through the Habitat for Humanity build and my work on campus; and even President (Dave) McFadden stopping by and asking me how things are going are all examples of this. My life has done a complete 360 and a lot of it is due to Manchester University.”